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I used to fuck your mum

  Sun 15th October 2017

Karen, her unhinged friend, and me, in the pub, our table accreting with a community of the uninteresting. Karen looked like sex, in a black miniskirt, black tights and black flatties, and an embroidered loose black top. Whilst she was in the loo I texted her. "You look fucking gorgeous."

Unhinged Friend told us, at great length, rewinding every section of the story to pile on more narrative-stunting detail, about a disastrous night away in Ambleside with a bloke she hardly knows. A twin room which became a double on arrival; him letting her sit on her own in a pub for four hours whilst constantly inventing excuses not to join her but asking her to come back to the room "for a cuddle." "He thinks he's bought you," I said. "He sees you as a prostitute." She showed us the text history, which she concluded by thanking him for acting like a gentleman. Men spot women like her a mile off.

I felt that I was losing Karen, that those kisses last week were to be the last. We're always with other people, bores, all of them; endless unintelligent drinking. My constant worry about money and the distasteful combination of declaring that I'd have to go Dutch, and refusing with a false nobility, a banknote pushed across the table from Unhinged Friend.

Walking home, I felt low, and lonely, another foray into girlfriend territory which ends up dashed. I rang Kitty and drove out a fifteen minute volley of my self-pity and frustration. At home I texted Karen asking her how she was and to let me know if she'd got home OK. I put some music on and texted her again in the small hours. I thought it unusual, not to hear from her.

About eight o'clock n the morning she texted to say that she'd been mugged, her bag stolen after an unsuccessful fight with a robber. She told me that she was OK and no, I didn't need to go round. I got up and went into town, where I stole some chocolates and a card and paid for some cheap flowers, and went round to hers. I felt momentarily silly standing there with presents more appropriate to someone who's just had a new baby rather than having been attacked and robbed.

"Oh thank you," she said. "This means a lot." We went through the details of her attack, but it soon merged into more generalised tears. "It's so hard, being by yourself all the time. I give and give and give and everyone just expects me to be all sunny all the time. They never think what I might be feeling." I told her that I feel precisely the same.

Her friend rang her and told us to get into a taxi to her house. Her friend has a startled, fixed expression, as though she's just fearfully arrived in a foreign country. Her son and his wife turned up. I wasn't introduced. "Do you like being a dad?" asked Karen. "No, it's fucking awful." They chatted more than me and it was good to see Karen getting distracted. Son made the inevitable statement that has to be included, by some unwritten fiat, in every working class intergenerational chat. "There's only ever been one person who has stood by me, and that's her."

I stayed for a few hours, then left Karen there, on an excuse. She's texted a ftew times since, and she's coming round for this much-postponed meal on Monday, but it's withering. I've acquired another social work client who doesn't fancy me.


In the Shipbuilder's Arms, I start chatting incontinently with the daughter of a married couple I went to university with in the late eighties. "You know I had an affair with Celia?" "Really?" "Yeah, I used to fuck your mum." "How long for?" "About a year I suppose. We used to drive up to Jubilee Tower."

"Why do we need to know that?" chimed in her boyfriend, not unreasonably. "Well, I don't know, I suppose, it's just that I see Carrie as someone I can say more to." "Yeah but you shouldn't have said that." "Well, OK maybe not, but why not? It was thirty years ago. It's a long time ago, it's all water under the bridge now."

He shook his head in a gesture indicating both disagreement and a desire that I would leave. "OK, well sorry then," I said, and went away to sit down. A few minutes later Carrie passed me on the way to the loo and made a winking, pointing gesture to me which I took as forgiving any impropriety.


Three women and two men at the next table. "We're nicompoos. Nicompoos." "Nicompoops," her friend corrected her. "Idiots." "We're all idiots who come in here." "Well I am." "We all are." "At least we know it."

A man whose character is joviality comes in. We've both lived in Madeira in the past. Like all my friends with no recent knowledge of me, he assumes I recline on pensioned cushions of financial plenitude, and he invited me to spend all of next February with him in Funchal.

With my ropey Portuguese and my curiosity for the lowest types of bar, I could show him a side of Funchal beyond his enclave of waistcoated, name-badged waiters; as much as I would enjoy, in an anthropological sense, him introducing me to the complaining wealthy, England's chief export to Madeira. "Really, Keith, I'd love that, but I can't stretch to it financially," not knowing if he'd interpret that as an excuse.


Off mystery shopping later this morning, pretending to buy a diamond ring, checking that the staff are as robotic as management insists.

4 comments

Withering on the vine. Must it always end that way? For everyone?

Have you ever been mugged? It’s awful. Lots of revenge fantasies for a long time.

Did you really say, ‘I used to fuck your mum?’ Perhaps a more delicate way to put it might’ve softened the reveal.

Mon 16th October 2017 @ 12:09
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Why did she say “You know looby, where this is going? You know what’s going to happen, don’t you?” She just seems to have lost interest. I reactivated my dating profile last night, which I’d taken down (prematurely and over-hopefully).

I’m reading Trollope’s The Way We Live Now: “With Mr Broune the affair was more serious. ‘Confound them [women] all,’ he said to himself; ‘no amount of experience enables a man to know them.’”

Never been mugged thank God. Poor love it’s shaken her up a lot.

I could have polished my sentence about her mum but northern English working class conversation is less concerned with refinements of speech than perhaps people from New Jersey are. I don’t know – when I find some money I’ll spend a couple of days there and you can prove or refute this thesis.

Mon 16th October 2017 @ 13:43
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

“i used to fuck your mom.” Such a beautiful sentence, there’s quite a few people i could say that too, the boyos included sadly, lol!!!

Fri 20th October 2017 @ 13:32
Comment from: [Member]

Ha ha :) Oh well, you can’t keep it up for ever, so to speak.

Fri 20th October 2017 @ 13:36


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